Live Green!Be Kind to the Earth
Well, OK. Don’t we all love real food, especially when our favorite dishes are on the table? Mmmmm….what are those dishes? Did you prepare them or did you open a box of stuff prepared by someone unknown…in a laboratory…for a major corporation?
Well here we are once again—saying goodbye to the old year and ushering in a new one, promising to never to “that” again and vowing to change all our evil ways overnight. Good luck.
Or better than luck, why not go with “healthy curiosity and personal-best strategies”? Make your new start into 2019 an exploration rather than an ultimatum. Start with a few small changes and keep building. I know, you are rolling your eyes and thinking: “There she goes again with her anti-New Year’s resolution stuff.” Well, ok, I hear ya. So I thought this year, I’d let someone else share her success and hopefully inspire you to find yours—meet my friend Jane, an accomplished educator, master baker, beautiful woman (inside and out) and recent convert to a Ketogenic way of life.
One of the most important ideas I try to impart here at Green Gal of the Midwest is to buy responsibly—to buy local and green whenever possible—and to choose carefully when products come from far away. There is a greater impact on the world than you might think when you speak with your hard-earned dollars. And, of course, buying less big stuff and spending more on simple and healthy gifts from local artisans, business people and my wonderful farmers is echoed all the time in these posts—but particularly at this time of year when the shopping frenzy reaches an all-time peak and grasping for the best deal, not matter what the cost to your health and wellbeing—not to mention the planet’s wellbeing—can be downright toxic.
So just guess… how many dishes do you think I got out of this one 20-pound fairy tale pumpkin? If my calculations are correct, from this one stunning squash I made one batch of Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup, one pot of Pumpkin Curry, a plate full of Pistachio-Encrusted Pumpkin Wedges for four, two loaves of sweet bread and two cheesecakes. Pumpkins store well in a dry cool spot; the flesh can be frozen and even canned. And while it made a huge Halloween statement just sitting pretty on the front porch, this pumpkin was the superstar of my kitchen the entire month of November. Its versatility and economy cannot be overstated. Don’t waste it!
I often wonder if the next generation will take up these causes because, let’s face it, I’m old. This Earth and these rights I’m fighting for belong more to the next generation than they do to me at this point. So when my friend Sasi asked if I would share my activism with his Environmental Anthropology class, how could I refuse? Of course, the first thing I did was bake up some Granola Bar & Pumpkin Pudding Squares because food closes the generational divide pretty quickly, in my opinion.
Last January, I was all about lemongrass, specifically a lemongrass stock recipe from favorite chef Annie Somerville of the famous Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. I was offering a recipe for winter salad that made use of the few greens we have in the Midwest during winter. But the showstopper ingredient was lemongrass stock from Somerville’s bestseller Fields of Greens. This freezable stock has been a staple in my kitchen ever since. So when Frank Biver out at Biver Farms said he had a BIG plant, I was at the ready with my shears.
We are big fans of Tex-Mex food. And we love those classic stuffed poblano peppers with cheesy potatoes that you can find in good Mexican restaurants. There are enough meat and vegetarian versions to keep both me and my hubby satisfied. So when my market farmers started showing up with big green and red poblanos….well, you know we are headed to the border via my kitchen.
Well of course, I’m hoping you will make your own Ground Cherry Chews for a healthy afterschool snack—even if you need to substitute a peach, nectarine or mango for those scrumptious ground cherries. But what about the at-school and at-work snacks? Ground Cherry Chews are kind of a no-go there. Thanks to the great selection of healthy treats from the New Hope Network Blogger Co-Op, I’ve got some yummy selections to recommend that your kids will love…and so will you because you won’t have to sacrifice nutrition or green choices to make your little ones smile when they open that lunchbox.
I’m sure if you asked Jackie Mills, owner and main operator of The Family Garden in New Douglas, IL, what she does for a living, she’d tell you she farms. But when I visited her a couple of weeks ago and took a tour around her property to see all the projects she has going, I could swear she was conducting a symphony.
This dish really did begin with a clear-out-the-frig mission, and it wound up tasting so good, I just decided to include it on the blog. It resembles a previous breakfast recipe that also uses quinoa called Quinoa Breakfast Bowls, but the current version is meant to be more versatile… and more green, helping you clear out the frig and avoid end-of-the-week-waste.
The Land of Goshen Community Market—my farmers market—has been open two weekends already! Even though we’ve been lucky enough to have that once-a-month winter market during the off season, nothing beats hopping on my bike and riding “home” to the real deal. I smiled so much my face hurt that first Saturday.
When I think about a physical “view,” I think about concrete reality, things before my eyes in the here and now. A view is real, constant and objective, even somewhat intractable. It is what it is, so to speak.
I’m sure when the property that was originally owned by Illinois Glass Company magnate Charles Levis was christened “La Vista,” it was all about “the view,” which is spectacular when you look down from the ragged bluffs lining the Great River Road on the property’s western side to the mighty Mississippi River below. La Vista spans 255 acres and provides its current owners, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, solitude, beauty, peace and, of course, that beautiful view.
No, I didn’t make a typo. But I did use a lot of food scraps to create a pretty tasty cracker bread. Here’s how it happened…
There was a cold rain, and we stood in a damp barn, alongside a muddy pasture. And it was one of the best Saturday mornings I’ve spent in quite some time. My daughter Heather and I paid a visit to Tracy Riddle, owner and operator of The Shepherd’s Wife, a sheep farm just outside Hamel, IL. Tracy raises sheep (among other critters like Pac Man the Alpaca) and practices the ancient arts of spinning wool, dying yarn, and producing handcrafted soaps and lotions.
Many years ago now, one of my very best friends Mary Lynn had a second thought about some overripe bananas and turned them into a miracle. I remember the day she and I were on one of our marathon phone calls, and she told me what she’d done just a few days before, saying that, though she wasn’t sure why, this simple act made her feel as if she had done something BIG. And as we continued to talk, we both realized she had. Here’s the story:
While watching this particular Nature episode on arctic wolves, I was also feeling a little sorry for myself. It’s doubtful my husband and I will be doing much traveling this year. Our decisions about less paid work and more family time—which I will never regret—have left us with less expendable income for stuff like vacations. So PBS may be my only brush with what is truly wild… or maybe not.
Delicious Living authors Lisa Truesdale and Jenna Blumenfeld recently wrote a series of articles about hunger in the U.S. Their research and resources make one thing perfectly clear: there are two main barriers that stand in the way of healthy food for all: lack of access to good food (either because of geography or lack of funds) and careless waste of good, plentiful food (by individuals, the US government and the commercial food industry). Inaccessibility and Waste are nearly inseparable partners in crime.
My 2017 Christmas box contains a combination of old favorites and new surprises. Green Gal Granola is an annual “must-include”; my homemade citrus salt is making a repeat appearance from last year; and I’ve created another set of homemade cards, using leftover papers and previously sent cards for my designs. Back by popular demand is my special fruited chocolate bark, too. But there are some new items, as well, including a too-die-for gluten-free cookie, some special holiday items from the folks at New Hope Blogger Network’s Blogger Box and local artist finds from potter John Boss and Chad and Felicia of Mississippi Mud Pottery.